The final game of Rocksteady's Arkham series has been released and offers our last venture out as the Dark Knight for Xbox One, PS4, and (arguably) the PC. The events of this game take place one year after Arkham City. Most of the criminals who were held in the neighborhood spanning prison were set free as they had technically been held illegally. This means that Two Face, Penguin, Harley Quinn, and Riddler are free at the beginning of Arkham Knight. However, they have all laid low and the crime rate has dropped in Gotham. In fact, things were looking great for the citizens of Gotham. Then, on Halloween night, Scarecrow returned. He started with a small demonstration of fear gas at a diner, which led to a full scale evacuation of the entire city. Now it is up to the Batman to prevent Scarecrow and the other villains from destroying Gotham, and the country.
The Ghosts of the Dead
Batman has always had an interesting rogue's gallery, especially villains that define different aspects of the human condition. In Arkham Knight the main antagonist is Dr. Jonathan Crane, AKA Scarecrow. Scarecrow has brought together the greatest villains that Gotham has to offer in order to destroy the Batman. Two-Face, Penguin, Harley Quinn, Poison Ivy, and the unknown "Arkham Knight". But to what end? Despite these foes having "banded together" none of them actually work together with the exception of Scarecrow and the Arkham Knight. Two-Face and Penguin are both relegated to side quests, and you can finish the game without dealing with either of them. It seems that their months of freedom from Arkham City has actually dulled their supervillain senses.
But there is one villian that has always defined the Bat, the man that was as polar opposite as one could be, and who died in Arkham City. But just because he is dead does not mean he is gone; especially in comics. Early on in the game Batman shows Gordon that there were 4 people that were infected with the Jokers poisoned blood. 3 of the 4 took on different aspects of the Joker. One has his obsession over Batman, another his narcissism, and another his brutality. But what happens if someone was infected with Joker blood that knew how he thought, that deep down had to think like the Joker to out wit him. That person could become the Joker and start a new wave of chaos in Gotham city. That person is the Batman.
Throughout the game, the Joker antagonizes Batman internally. Tries to push him over the edge and be like the Joker. And this is the thing that Batman fears most. Joker knows this, and he also knows that the fastest way out is with a few doses of fear gas. With Scarecrow trying to take over Gotham, the Joker sees an opportunity to try to take over Batman's consciousness, and begin a new reign of terror. And to make things better, Mark Hamill returned to voice the villain.
Batman's Toy Box
While Batman is an example of a person in pique physical condition, he is still only a man. In order to overcome that limitation he has a number of toys and gadgets that allows him to change the field of battle to his preference. If you have played previous Arkham games you will recognize a few of these toys. You still have the batarang, the claw shot, and the hacking device. We did lose the sonic batarang though, or at least I never got it during the story mode of the game.
The biggest new toy in the game is definitely the Batmobile. And this game requires you to make good use of it. Although, I will admit that sometimes it felt as if they were shoving it down my throat by forcing me to drag it to a point, get out so I could remove a blockage, and then drive it forward a bit more. The car does have a some good uses though, and it even, somehow, doesn't kill people when you run into them at top speed by electrocuting them and tossing them aside. This seems like awfully loose science though and they are probably in heavy need of the missing ambulances when they get hit. Over time you should become more comfortable with the car as you will need it in order to defeat the robotic drones in the Arkham Knight's army. And just like everything else in Batman's arsenal, it is upgradable.
What's In a Name?
And this brings us to the game's namesake, the Arkham Knight. This mysterious miscreant seems to know everything about our hero. He knows how he fights, how he thinks, and who he works with. This new masked man knows everything about Batman, and Batman knows nothing about him. The Knight is an interesting new character. He has a singular motivation to destroy the Bat and brought an army to do it. But the execution of his reveal could probably have been done better. After a certain part of the game it is hinted at who it could be. Then after a large amount of the knights dialog it becomes obvious. To me this took the reveal of his identity from a true shock to the confirmation of a guess. It was still satisfying, but not as game changing for the player as it was for the character.
So all in all what did I think of this game? Overall it is another success in the line of Batman games by Rocksteady. But it is not the best of the three. I still think Arkham City was a better game. I felt the story progressed better and involved more of Batman's villains. Despite being a smaller area, Arkham City felt like it was a larger game. But that is by no means a reason to skip this game. The combat is still there, as is solving the Riddler's puzzles. If you enjoyed the previous Arkham games, then you should play this one.